JOHN Di Mauro’s HQ ‘Farm Ute’ has become something of an internet celebrity over the past few months thanks to its massive stealth factor. In fact it was the first car we featured in our new Sleepers section, back in the October ’15 mag. The ute seriously looks like it has been the nesting place for a family of mice and other rodents for the past 10 years – and that’s largely because it was!

HQ Farm Ute 2 NwJohn found the car in dilapidated condition in a shed up in Queensland, and thought it would be ideal for a sleeper build. He cleared out all the nasty mouse poo, but kept the rest of the body pretty much as it was when he found it.

HQ Farm Ute 3 NwThen he set about updating all the hardware. The key to the car’s charm is popping the crusty bonnet to reveal a clean engine bay, stuffed full of turbo LS. It’s an LQ9 block with a GTX42/GTX45 hybrid turbo set-up, standard LS crank, rods and pistons and LS3 heads. It’s not rocket science, but the combo makes an impressive 750rwhp, yet is no louder than a standard SS Commodore, races on its original steel hubcaps and is absolutely bulletproof! John didn’t have to lay a spanner on the car at all during Drag Challenge.

HQ Farm Ute 1 NwThe ute was properly quick, too. It has no ’cage or ’chute, so John ran in the Dial Your Own class and backed off the throttle before the quarter marker to save getting kicked off every track we went to. But on the last day at Calder he kept his foot on it and ran his first nine-second pass in the car, a 9.98@137mph. To sweeten the deal and prove it was no fluke, on the way back to John’s home in Toowoomba, Queensland after Drag Challenge had wrapped up in Melbourne, he and the boys stopped off at a street meet at Sydney Dragway and went even quicker, with a 9.87@138mph!

HQ Farm Ute 4 NwJohn is now toying with the idea of getting the Farm Ute ’caged and teched so he can run nines without getting kicked off the strip, and maybe try and crack into the eights if he can squeeze some more power out of the car.

HQ Farm Ute 7 NwJohn and passengers James Cornford and Ben Anderson were great sports during Drag Challenge, and were lucky to even make it. “I was taken by ambulance to hospital the night before we left with gallstone pain,” John says. “I thought I was going to die, but it wasn’t going to stop me!”

HQ Farm Ute 5 NwThe boys had a great time during the event, with plenty of laughs. They even laid down some rubber at the Castlemaine Rod Shop – with their massive U-Haul trailer still attached to the ute!

HQ Farm Ute 6 NwSpeaking of the trailer, technically it was too big to be allowed in Drag Challenge, but U-Haul had no small units left and gave them the big rig instead. We let it slide this time; they only half-filled it anyway. 

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